I am born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a city now facing the stress of the protests and the pain caused by the death of George Floyd. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best, "And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity."
- The Other America speech at Grosse Pointe High School, March 14, 1968.
This ongoing trauma is not new, but thanks to technology many are dealing with seeing Black people murdered for the first time in their lives.
Peace doesn’t come quickly or easily. So what’s your plan to your deal with the daily stress? Now is the time to improve your coping skills. Experts categorize them in many different ways, but there is one important distinction to keep in mind: Unhealthy coping skills hold you back and will get you stuck, while healthy coping skills will lower your stress, protect your health and make it easier to reach your goals. Remember, fear and anger narrow the mind.
As a bonus, having productive new strategies may also make it easier to break negative habits like overspending and emotional eating. That’s because you’ll experience less temptation when you have more fulfilling substitutes. There is purpose in your pain, so if you feel you can’t control anything in your life, focus on learning a new skill.
With practice, you can transform the way you deal with challenges.
Start by experimenting with these ideas to see what works best for you.
Healthy Coping Skills You Can Use Immediately to Get Unstuck and Move Forward:
1. Exercise regularly. Physical activity is one of the quickest and most effective ways to cope with stress. Take a walk outdoors or invite a friend to join you for a workout. Remember, joy is an act of resistance, when is the last time you just played and had fun?
2. Spend time in nature. Whether it’s working in your garden or visiting a park, even in COVID-19, it’s critical to connect with the universe and remind yourself that you are bigger than your problem. When's the last time you watched the sunrise?
3. Connect with your spiritual routine. Right now is the time to revamp and revisit what YOU believe. If you believe that there is a higher power, spend time learning more about what your religion says about how to deal with pain and loss. Faith is one of the most powerful tools to shift your mindset from grief to gratitude. Take time to pray, fast, and surround yourself with like-minded people who will uplift you and help you stay grounded. When is the last time you shared your fears in prayer and asked for help?
4. Express your creativity. Creating art is another way to relax and heal. You might love to write poetry or knit. Whatever makes you feel better is working for your good. Use your stress to discover your creative gifts. What's a skill you haven't used in a while?
5. Follow your energy unapologetically. Trauma is a marathon, not a sprint. You are responsible for protecting yourself from the spirit of others. You have a unique vision and gift to share, and it’s up to you to ensure you aren’t distracted or depressed by the pain of others. Remember, you can’t give what you don’t have. Focus on finding your peace so you can be a voice of reason for others. Who makes you feel energized and empowered?
6. Expand your options. Fear, anger, and stress can make it difficult to think clearly. If you feel stuck, reexamine your choices. You’ll probably discover new opportunities. When you feel ready to take action, make a list of what you COULD do, and give yourself space to consider what will allow you to fulfill your purpose. What is one thing you can do today?
7. Keep it simple. It’s easy to look to others for solutions when the truth is, you are the expert of you. While it’s helpful to understand the root causes of your behavior, you may need to take a break from the news and quietly reflect on it. Lower your expectations if you’re feeling tired and wasting too much energy on an insignificant issue. What is one thing you can release?
8. Start a journal. Writing about your experiences is therapeutic. A journal can help you spot your triggers and create plans for dealing with them. Seeing what’s troubling with you can help you understand WHY you are feeling your emotions and start to release them or direct your energy productively. When is the last time you wrote your dreams and fears in your journal?
9. Limit your screen time. Be more selective about your use of technology. In addition to posting career-limiting opinions or attracting negative attention online, immersing yourself in the opinions of others might not be helpful right now. Do you feel less happy after you watch violent news stories or compare yourself to others on social media?
10. Step away from your triggers. It is perfectly okay to shift your attention until you’re ready to move forward. Remove yourself from the group chat. Stop looking at Facebook. Block your friend who has to share second-hand loneliness. Instead, it’s okay to compartmentalize and distract yourself with something harmless like soft music, reading, prayer, or whatever will bring you peace and ground you. What is your trigger?
11. Meditate daily. Making room in your morning to set your intention and start your day with affirmations will make all the difference in your attitude. To persevere, you have to make up your mind to be victorious today. You must participate in your rescue before you turn on the TV or help anyone in your household. You are worth your time. Give yourself a fighting chance by setting your vision on a better day instead of bombarding yourself with Facebook and worries. If you'd like to join my free 5-day gratitude challenge, click here.
What's stopping you from quieting your mind?
12. Don’t let someone else’s urgency be your emergency. Most of us are people pleasers. We want to help and be useful. That can be dangerous in a time of crisis when everyone wants help, but many don’t have the tools to do the work. When you are talking to someone stuck, excuse yourself from the call and protect your peace. Leaders especially must not be afraid to put more time to address their triggers before being forced to respond to questions or give an opinion. In the words of Billy Joel, "we didn’t start the fire. It was always burning since the world’s been turning." Unless you trained as a firefighter, don’t be pressured to do something outside of your expertise. Why are you feeling this emotion right now?
13. Contact your mental health partner. Everyone needs professional help in dealing with trauma. Now is a great time to reach out and ask for support in creating a customized plan to release your stress positively. What's keeping you from getting professional help?
Here are some things to consider when reaching out for mental health support:
If it's an emergency in which you or someone you know is suicidal, you should immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room.
Many primary healthcare providers and pediatricians are offering virtual services and appointments if you think your condition is mild to moderate. National Alliance for Mental Health 1-800-950-NAMI Monday- Friday 10 am- 6 pm EST info@NAMI.org or for help in a crisis Text NAMI to 741741
If your symptoms are moderate to severe, make an emergency appointment with a specialized doctor such as a psychiatrist. You may need to contact your community mental health center or primary health care provider for a referral.
If you or your child is in school or at college, contact the school and ask about their support services.
Seek out support groups in your community and educate yourself about your symptoms and diagnosis. Social support and knowledge can be valuable tools for coping.
Professional Resources to Help You Find the Right Resources
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Black Female Therapists
Black Therapist Network
Black Mental Health
Mental Health America
National Queer and Trans People of Color
Therapy for Black girls
Therapy for Queer People of Color https://therapyforqpoc.com/qpoc-therapist-directory-1#!director
Feeling stressed? Listen to Getting Unstuck with Meredith Moore Crosby podcast interview with therapist and author of The Strong One, Dr. Giavana Jones at gettingunstuckguide.com/podcast
My power is my presence.
I am smart, courageous, and ready for what’s next.
I have the power to create change.
I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet.
I let go of all that no longer serves me.
I am in control.
I can. I will. I am.
I am in charge of how I feel and today I am choosing happiness.
I am choosing not to wait to be chosen.
If you are a leader struggling to be productive in uncertain times, I created something to help you.
Sign up for a five day GETTING UNSTUCK GRATITUDE Challenge. Remember, whatever you are facing today, you have the tools to overcome.
If this content has motivated you, share this post, and invite your network to follow Gettingunstuckguide.com for more. You can order your copy of Getting Unstuck: A Guide to Moving Your Career Forward, now available on Amazon. #gettingunstuckguide